My annual college football season-preview column for ESPN, this year’s edition of which will run today, is always my biggest column of the year. It’s also the most frantic and stressful one to produce, because there’s usually so much late-breaking news right up to the moment the piece is published.
This year, for example, I delivered the piece to my editor, Dave Wilson, on Friday. But of course there were plenty of additional college football unveilings and developments later that day and over the weekend, so on Monday morning I sent Dave a bunch of additions and adjustments to the text. And then there were more developments on Monday, so I kept sending Dave more updates: “One more … Wait, one more … Sorry, just heard about this one … Is it too late for one more?” (One of the many reasons I love working with Dave is that he never complains about any of this. He wants the column to be as complete and comprehensive as possible, just like I do. Hi, Dave!)
One of the several items to come over the transom yesterday was the news that Alabama, as you can see above, will be wearing a “Mal” memorial decal for former athletic director Mal Moore, who died back in March (I like how they used the ’Bama “A” as one of the letters). Another was the report from Longhorns beat reporter Kirk Bohls that the ’Horns will be wearing TV numbers on their helmets this Saturday, and possibly for the rest of the season.
Okay, so now I just gave away two of the things that’ll be in today’s ESPN column. But don’t worry, the column has plenty of additional info — like, a lot more. here you go.
By Brinke Guthrie
Nike’s dominance of the NFL is somewhat of a sad thing for me. I liked it better back when a variety of manufacturers could give teams different looks and styles (although some tended to be quite bizarre, such as Logo Athletic and Zubaz). Take Russell and Champion, for example. Afterthoughts in the league now, they used to be quite visible. I preferred these brands, along with Apex. Champion and Russell leaned on old-school designs, and their stuff was, for the most part, classic-looking and heavy-duty. I mean seriously heavy-duty — not this shiny “high-tech” poly-blend stuff. Ah well, all in the name of progress, I suppose.
As for this week’s non-Pro Line finds:
• Wow, totally cool Astros souvenir batting helmet from 1970 — unopened!
• Here’s a poster from the 1970s featuring hockey great Bobby Hull. Or just Hull, as the poster says. (Is it me, or was there a period when lots of advertising and book titles were just one word plus an exclamation point at the end?)
• Pack up your NFL stuff in this late-1960s/early-1970s era Green Bay Packers team-issued equipment bag.
• Gonna finish up with a few tennis items, ’cause of the U.S. Open in Paul’s neighborhood. Here are a pair of Jimmy Connors Converse sneakers. For what it’s worth, to this day he still wears an essentially logo-less pair of Nikes, the same pair he wore back in 1991’s epic run. He also wore Brooks sneakers
• Ah, the Nike Wimbledon. This was their first entry into the leather tennis shoe market. I had about a hundred pair of these, it seemed. I’d wear ’em until they wore out, then plug the toes with Shoe Goo. Once THAT gave out, it was time for the next pair.
Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
’Skins Watch: Here’s the latest on the ’Skins name and related issues:
• Former Raiders CEO Amy Trask, recently hired as an analyst by CBS, thinks the ’Skins should change their name.
• ESPN Senior VP Rob King (aka my boss) apparently avoided saying the ’Skins name during an interview with Sports Media Journal.
(My thanks to Tommy Turner and Brian Wulff for their contributions to this section.)
Wouldn’t all that money in your pocket be happier in my pocket?: Since I’ve been away for a month, this seems like a good time to remind everyone about a few things:
• You can sign up for your own custom-designed Uni Watch membership card (like Mike Plunkett’s USA soccer World Cup design, shown at right) here.
• Have an interesting product or business that would make a good fit with the Uni Watch readership? Thinking about taking out an ad? Contact me.
Uni Watch News Ticker: New hoops uniforms for Kentucky. … I like this old MISL program cover from the mid-1980s. “Some great logos represented there,” says John Waddill. “The MISL was a very fun and affordable and entertaining league.” … Here’s the jersey that RIT hockey will be wearing for the 2013 Frozen Frontier game (from Gretchen Mittelstaedt). … Anthony Pellegrino reports that the Code of Federal Regulations, of all things, has a 75th-anniversary logo on its cover this year. … While looking for something else, I came across a disturbing sight: a Lions kicker with swooshified socks. Let’s hope that’s just a preseason thing. … New rugby jersey for Agen (from Robert J. Hudson). … New bat knob decals for the Dodgers (thanks, Phil). … Also from Phil: a good photo gallery of the Russian hockey uni set for the Olympics. … And still more from Phil: Eastern Washington is wearing a 50th-anniversary conference helmet decal. … This is pretty good: a site called What Pros Wear, which is devoted to which players wear which accessories, equipment, gear, etc. Recommended (from Roger Morrow). … You know the G.I. Joe thing has gotten way out of hand when Olive Garden — yes, Olive fucking Garden — comes up with a camo-based uni design (from Ryan Frazer). … Eagles QB Matt Barkley is wearing a substitute wedding band on the field. Apparently it’s this product (from Jonathan Hunolt). … Randall Sanders designed this Cubs hockey jersey and had it made for himself. “I’m ecstatic with how it came out, happy to own something one-of-a-kind that I designed myself, and eagerly awaiting it being cold enough to wear it for the first time,” he says. … Steven Little, who runs the Sports Design Blog, has launched an excellent new side project called Winsipedia. It’s pretty self-explanatory — check it out and see for yourself. … Some great 1960 NFL photos from Life magazine here (from Leo Strawn Jr.). … Brinke notes that Rafael Nadal’s U.S. Open shoes this year don’t feature the tournament’s trophy like they usually do. … Matt Carpenter was wearing Jon Jay’s batting helmet last night (good spot by Mike Engle). … In a related item, here’s an old shot of Joe Namath wearing someone else’s warm-up gear (from James Ashby). … Also from James: What do these photos of Bobby Tolan and Terry Crowley wearing Texas Rangers uniforms have in common? Neither Tolan nor Crowley ever appeared in a regular season game for the Rangers. The pics must have been from spring training. … Here’s the logo for the 2013 FIVB Men’s Club World Championship in Brazil (from Jeremy Brahm). … New uniforms apparently in the works for Oregon State rugby. “This is actually a big deal, because Nike only provides uniforms for a handful of clubs around the world,” says Matt Manley. “In America, Cal uses Nike uniforms that are made specifically for them. Cal being the most dominant college program in history, it makes sense to a certain degree.” … Remember how Barry Bonds used to have little straps on his pant cuffs that looped under his shoes? That particular form of customization was supposedly banned, but it has resurfaced in Detroit, where Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are wearing it (disturbing find by Ross Yoshida). … Oilers goaltender Jason Labarbera’s new mask features WWE star CM Punk on one side and Metallica singer James Hetfield on the other (from David Hutchison).